Loïc Vliegen found himself in a dream position during the 2021 Liège-Bastogne-Liège, as the local rider led the race around his home region.
The Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux rider made it into the seven-rider breakaway in the final spring Monument, enjoying a day out around the roads of his hometown Liège.
Into the final 25km of the race, Vliegen attacked alone as the peloton closed in behind, but the 27-year-old’s solo move was brought to a sudden halt when cramp set into his legs.
Vliegen was brought to a complete standstill, lost his lead and was forced to recover before he could get the legs turning again.
Speaking after the finish, Vliegen told Belgian newspaper Het Niewsblad: “It was a very tough race and I had been in the lead almost the entire time, while my form is not really great. However, I wanted to do something today, for my audience. It was a beautiful day for me, with a very good course. Next year I will come here with a different goal. Those cramps? I could feel them coming, yes. But after two minutes they were gone again, after I pushed them a bit. After that I helped Quinten Hermans, after that my day was over. ”
Vliegen was able to continue rolling and eventually made it to the finish in 92nd place, a respectable 6-17 down on race winner Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).
To mark the moment in the historic 259km, Vliegen celebrated with a plate of Belgian fries.
Vliegen was the star rider for his team in the Ardennes Classics, making it into the break in all three major races (Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallone and Liège), being the last man to survive from them at both Amstel Gold and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
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